Retaining walls are a wonderful garden feature that can turn your outdoor area from dull and unusable to attractive and useful. And to make it even better, retaining walls constructed from any type of concrete block don’t require much maintenance. While they’re not quite set-and-forget, they are certainly a low-maintenance garden feature that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. However, a little maintenance is still required to ensure your retaining wall stays looking great for longer. Here’s what you need to do.
First, why do you need to maintain your retaining wall?
It may seem as if your retaining wall will pretty much take care of itself, but that’s not quite true. Left un-cared-for, your lovely new retaining wall will soon fall prey to an accumulation of dirt, mould, mildew and plant material. The result is an unattractive garden feature that’s usually one of the most visible parts of your garden – not something you really want.
A little regular maintenance will go a long way towards keeping your retaining wall looking visually appealing – and will also extend the life of your wall.
Every so often, perhaps every six months or so, take the time to inspect your retaining wall thoroughly. Look for movement of the wall, sinking of particular areas, drainage or erosion problems, bulges or rotation. If any of these problems are present, consult a professional about the best way to fix them. As well, examine the blocks for signs of mould, mildew or efflorescence (white powdery deposits) building up, and take care of the problem while it’s still mild. By keeping an eye on the state of the wall and its performance, you’re ideally positioned to nip problems in the bud before they get worse.
Give it a good clean every now and then
A light and regular cleaning will go a long way towards preventing the build-up of mould, mildew, dirt and stains on your retaining wall. If your wall is looking a little worse for wear, start with a good wash down using an ordinary garden hose with a sprayer attachment.
Start at the top of the wall and work downwards. If there are stains that don’t wash off, try using a dish soap solution in your garden sprayer. Use a toothbrush or scrubbing brush to carefully attack any stains, then spray off the whole area with a power sprayer and allow to dry. Be very cautious if there are any plants around the wall, and use a tarp to protect vegetation from any run-off.
If all else fails, you can try bleach to clean stains and dirt from concrete blocks. In general though, be careful with using chemicals to clean the wall, as they may react with the block material and cause problems. If you think a chemical is necessary to clean the wall effectively, check whether it’s safe to use on that particular product first.
Always start with a gentle cleaning technique, as you can progress to something a little more aggressive if you need to. And remember that powerful chemicals and cleaners should be used with a high level of caution.
Nip weed growth in the bud
Weed growth can be a problem around retaining walls, particularly if you have a stackable block wall. Plus, it can escalate easily, and one stray week can quickly turn into a forest. Every few weeks, remove the odd weed that has found its way into your wall and prevent a weed infestation from taking over.
Like most things, it’s far easier to perform some small, regular maintenance jobs rather than a large and potentially costly job once the problem has gotten out of hand. It won’t take long to keep your retaining wall looking good, and improve the overall appearance of your outdoor area.
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